Upon returning to my home airport this past week I glanced at my TripIt app and thought it must be having a problem syncing. Joy is checking your TripIt app and finding no itineraries. Usually there’s 1-3 in there. Then I remembered that I actually didn’t have a trip planned…yet.
It’s my privilege to travel internationally on a regular basis and I frequently visit multiple countries on a single trip. I’ve gotten pretty good at most aspects of international travel, but one of the things I’ve struggled with is currency exchange when departing a country. I try to go cashless, but frequently find myself using my credit card for very small purchases in dicey locations (or taxi fare) or imposing on colleagues who are carrying local currency.
It’s easy enough to get local currency from an ATM, (My preferred way since currency exchange kiosks are generally not good. (Watch both the exchange rate and fees when exchanging currency) But it’s a challenge to deal with the change that’s left over from the trip?
I’ve tried to manage the many currencies I use in a year by putting each in a plastic sandwich bag…with the intention of grabbing the currencies I need for the next trip. Yeah, you guessed it…I usually forget.
One of my friends just throws whatever change he has into one of the charitable contribution repositories you’ll find in most airports…which is better than sitting in a baggie in my credenza drawer I guess. But it’s sometimes unclear what the charity is really going to do, or how much of the cash would actually be used for “administration”.
If you’re a Starbucks fan, I have an idea for you. Though not universally true, I’ve found (with increasing frequency) that it’s easy to find a Starbucks in just about any part of the world. As of this post Starbucks is saying that they have “…more than 5,500 coffeehouses in over 50 countries.” On a recent trip to Asia there were two Starbucks locations within a block of my Beijing hotel (with one of those being right across the street) and I found one at the airport as I was leaving Jakarta.
So, how does having a Starbucks nearby help? Well…if you have one, you can reload your Starbucks card at any participating store. So you can take that leftover currency and have Starbucks will add it to your card where it will automatically be converted to your home currency without a fee.
There’s a lot of good info in the Starbucks FAQ… http://www.starbucks.com/customer-service/faqs/card/
Full disclosure…I haven’t road tested this much, but would love to hear feedback on your experience if you decide to give it a try.
*** Copying one of the statements from Starbucks Terms and Conditions in order to save some of my international friends from trying this when it’s not likely to work: Starbucks Cards are accepted at most Starbucks locations in North America, including airport and grocery locations. Starbucks Cards can also be used interchangeably at most stores in Australia, Hong Kong, Ireland, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. Starbucks Cards issued in Greece, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, <chrome_find style=”padding: 0px; margin: 0px; overflow: visible !important; “>Spain, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey may only be used in the country from which they are issued.
I’m on the last day of a 10 day trip in Europe and am spending the evening in the Movenpick Hotel at the airport in Stuttgart, Germany. BTW…staying in an airport hotel on a Friday night anywhere sucks, but it’s also cold, rainy and foggy in Stuttgart tonight.
Sitting at the bar (empty except for those without the sense to already be home) to get a light snack before turning in, I struck up a conversation with a German guy also not thrilled to be traveling over the weekend.
Two large TVs faced us, I was focused on the one with news about the French economy…he on the Bills-Dolphins game. Ironic…I thought at first.
Then I learned that he once lived in Charlotte’s “South End”, about 30 miles from where I live now. But I also found that he’d been to Caterpillar (where I worked in the late 70’s/early 80’s) in the early 80s and hearing him talk about working in East Peoria and Mossvillle was surreal…not many people outside of Mossville, know that there’s such a place as Mossville.
So the point?…it’s a small world. Travel like those that are traveling along side of you know where you come from. They just might…Al
Though you might accuse me of some bias here, if you’re ever through Charlotte you should plan to get a shoeshine while there.
Having traveled much of the world, I can honestly say that I’ve never had a finer polish job.
Wearing black?…be prepared for a torch to allow the polish to flow in. Don’t worry…no hot feet there. Wearing brown?…they know the difference between that and “Tuscan”.
While their work doesn’t take long, you’ll get several layers of polish that will last longer than you’ve ever experienced outside of the military.
Three different stands…in Concourse A, the connector hall to Concourses D&E, and Concourse E.
And for $5 US…men and women both line up. There’s rarely much of a wait.